Merkel faced building pressure from within the party to begin clarifying the questions of succession and enforce a stronger force within the conservative wing leading up to Monday’s Berlin convention in Berlin.
If Germany’s governing grand coalition with the Social Democrats is renewed, the coming term is expected to be Merkel’s last.
The decision is expected to be answered on Sunday.
After a lengthy debate, convention delegates endorsed both the planned grand coalition and Merkel’s Cabinet nominees with near unanimity.
At the same time, delegates responded to Merkel’s hour-long speech with polite applause, while meeting Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer – the party’s new general secretary and a figure many would like to see as the CDU’s next leader – with excitement.
Popularly known as “mini-Merkel”, Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer has long been seen as the Chancellor’s preferred successor.
Elmar Brok, a longtime conservative MEP and member of the CDU’s executive committee, said: “The party has calmed down. All the tension we saw in recent weeks evaporated.”
Continued criticism of Merkel’s leadership sparked after she traded key ministries in coalition talks, including the powerful finance and interior ministries.
Many in the CDU blamed her for a dizzying drop in support for the party when it posted its worst post-war result in September’s general election.
To tranquillise the response, Merkel pushed out longtime political allies such as Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Health Minister Hermann Gröhe in efforts to open the Cabinet doors to a new CDU generation.
Merkel has steered the centre-right identifying CDI further left over two decades as the leader, alienating some conservatives towards the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Her selection of deputy finance minister Jen Spahn, 37, as health minister in the next Cabinet is the clearest sign that she accepts the need to engage her critics.
He has been a vocal opposition to Merkel on issues such as migration and dual citizenship.
Though sometimes caricatured as a “mini-Merkel,” CDU secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer also has broad backing in the party.
Nearly 99 per cent of delegates supported her bid for general secretary at the convention.
In the coming months, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s main objective will be to help craft a new program aimed at modernising and re-energising Germany’s largest political party.
She said: “We want to be a strong Volkspartei, not a messageless mass movement that anyone can just latch onto.”
With strong backing from Merkel, Kramp-Karrenbauer would appear to have the leadership advantage over Spahn.